Bob and Helen have volunteered in the community for many years. Both of them realized early the importance and significance of the Navan Fair in this rural community and for innumerable years, they served in various capacities on the different committees. Bob was president for the 1984 and 1985 fairs. They were both dedicated to their church where Bob remains the caretaker, setting the furnace for special events and Sunday school and operating the elevator. The Navan Women’s Institute was an organization that was very dear to Helen. She valued the social and educational content of this group. Helen volunteered her time, effort and expertise at the local, district and provincial level to help make this organization meaningful to others. But it is their kindness and generosity that people remember the most. Although Helen passed away in 2012, many relatively new to Navan people have very fond memories of how Helen and Bob went out of their way to make them feel at home in this area and helped them get involved in the community. This is community building!
Since 1945, the CTAS as it is known, is a most important fixture in the community and surrounding area. Visionaries of that time saw the need for an agricultural fair that would display local goods and farm animals as well as act as a social meeting place. Navan was chosen as the place and the first Fair was held on August 31st 1946. Since that time it has expanded to become a four day affair with entertainment and all kinds of activities to suit young and old. It now attracts over 26000 visitors and enlists over 300 volunteers on the grounds during the fair. The CTAS made a valuable contribution to the community by facilitating the building of the Navan Community Centre, Centennial Park and the Cenotaph. They donated land for the building of the Curling Club. In 1995, for the 50th Fair, the 50 horse hitch put Navan in the Guinness Book of Record. Hundreds of events have been held over the years on the grounds to generate funds for community groups. This organization with its annual fair is a tourist attraction, an economical help and an educational venue for Navan and so rightly deserves to be recognized as such.
David Irwin was born in England in 1881. He received his primary and secondary education there. His family immigrated to Canada in the late 1890’s and lived in Ottawa. Dr. Irwin completed his medical studies at Queen’s University. He first established his practice in Cumberland then moved to Navan to become the country doctor that served the population of the entire township of Cumberland and beyond. He diligently served this area for over 30 years. At that time, going to Ottawa was a long distance to travel for medical emergencies for most of the residents. Dr. Irwin‘s house and office were located on Smith Rd. but more often than not in the 20’s, 30’ and 40’s, he would have made house calls when farmers could not leave their farm. His pay would be eggs, vegetables or meat when the clients had no cash. He also served for several years on the Village Council and was heavily involved with men’s and women’s senior softball and hockey teams. Dr. Irwin met an untimely death when his car was hit by a train in 1944.In appreciation of his services to the community and his compassion for his patients, he deserves to be recognized as a community builder.
This is a group of service-minded men and women who have generously given of their time and talents to make the Navan Community a better place since 1952. Their motto is WE SERVE and they certainly live by it. Here are but a few highlights of their accomplishments: over $50000 to help build the curling club, money to CTAS to purchase the fair grounds, generous donations to Hospice at May Court, Outcare Foundation and the community Resource Centre to name a few. They have established the Hannah Billings Emergency Fund that helps needy families with expenses arising from medical emergencies. They provide and cook food at all community events and beyond. They work in close collaboration with other organizations to make Navan a better place to live. Relay for Life, a school event has benefited from their help for the last 10 years. They continue to support events in Navan such as Fallfest, Winterfest, the November Remembrance ceremony and more. The list of community activities could go on for pages. The letters of support that attest to this were numerous. It is only fitting that this dedicated club be part of the Community Builders Wall.
The Navan Women’s Institute held its first meeting in December 1931 and has been actively helping out in the community ever since. They have given courses on Nutrition, First Aid, and talks on Home Economics, home beautification, and canning to name a few. They helped financially with the building of the first, second and third arenas. They have made donations for playground equipment to the park, to CTAS for their new building and so many others. In cooperation with other groups, they had Navan signs put up at the entrance of the village, helped build a handicap ramp at the post office, given money to the Fire Department for Jaws of Life equipment and so much more. One of their major on-going project is the recording of all local news and events in a series of books. These are called the Tweedmuir books and are an incredible source of information of everything local. The NWI continues to make donations and sponsor events that improve and educate the community. They give bursaries to girls to help with post –secondary education and help individual reach their goals when they can. Members of this group are truly community builders.
Sam Rathwell was the first of the generations to arrive from Wexford Ireland in 1846 to the Navan area. Although life was difficult at that time, he became involved in the new community and the descendants continue to follow in his footsteps. One cannot begin to list all of their accomplishments but they are farmers, reeves, deputy reeves, president of Navan Fair and many different organizations. Here is but a sample of their contributions to the community throughout the years. The building of a cement block building used as a cheese factory now known as Castello’s restaurant, helping with the re-forestation of Larose Forest, strong supporters of the Navan Fair Board and other district and provincial agricultural associations. Grandson of the original settlers, Sam was the first president of the CTAS and his wife was very involved with the NWI. Others too numerous to name, built the first veterinary clinic in Navan, were founding members of the Curling Club, were and are strong supporters of their church. The collective efforts of six generations who have lived, worked and devoted their talents to enrich the community deserves to be recognised.
They have been active volunteers and participants in community events and activities in Navan for many years. As a policeman, George spent countless volunteer hours educating and working with the youth in the community. Pat was a key organizer for the Nursery School and also participated in numerous fundraisers where her baking became renowned. Both Pat and George realized the importance of the Fair to the community and were active in many facets of its operation. George was president for two years and ran the Demolition Derby for a long time. He was the voice and MC for the parade and was the spokesperson for the Fair in case of emergency. Pat held many positions within the CTAS and was instrumental in organizing free activities for children. Pat and George were part of a group that formed the original Block Parent in Navan. Both of them were dedicated members of their church where they helped in so many ways. Navan has lost great volunteers with their move to another city and we are pleased to honour them as builders of the community.
George and his family were raised on the family homestead on Colonial Rd. George and his wife later bought a farm on the corner of Trim and Smith Rd, still referred to as the Shaw building. The Shaw’s generosity is responsible for many facets of Navan. In 1898, stones from the quarry on the farm were used to build the present St-Mary’s church. The Wilson Memorial Cemetery is located on part of the Shaw land. As well as a dairy farm, George owned a bush which is now the site of the most public places in Navan. It is home to the Fair building and all other buildings in the surrounding area. It is the park and the baseball field as well as where the Domes are located. George was extremely generous. He donated lumber for the construction of St-Mary’s hall as well as for the first community centre. George’s choices concerning the use of his land and his resources showed civic-minded foresight as we now enjoy all these public places. He was a real community builder.
Sheila has been an active volunteer and visionary since she moved to this area in 1976. She is a founding member of the Navan Curling Club and has helped the club with much needed fundraising on numerous occasions. She has made monthly contributions to the Navan Nugget for over 9 years writing about interesting people under the Navan Notables title. In 2011, Sheila spearheaded Navan’s 150th anniversary by envisioning a town clock plaza in the center of the village to mark this historic event. Her dream was realised with most monies raised through donations and with help from Brian Coburn, a community builder’s wall was added. After the 50-horse hitch record, Sheila’s idea brought about the two horse statue at the Fair Grounds. She also contributed greatly to the beautification on Navan in advance of the IPM in 2001. Other contributions include but not limited to organizing a computer course for seniors, creating a knitting club, volunteer story hour, helping students work their 40 hours of volunteer and so many others. She is President of the Navan Women’s Institute and has held many other positions at the district and provincial level. The list goes on. What a great community builder!
Michael O Meara was a central figure in the establishment of the community. He was born in the parish of Navan, county Meath, Ireland in 1799. He immigrated to Canada in 1835 and established himself and his family in this area, just east of the now Frank Kenny Road. He had the honour of naming the first post office and chose Navan, as a memory of his life in Ireland. In later years, Fairgreen Ave. and Trim Road were also named after streets in Michael O Meara’s home parish. He was a member of the Cumberland Township Council in 1851-1852, taught children and was an active member of his parish, Michael O Meara died in 1898 and is buried in St-Hughe’s cemetery in Sarsfield. Most of his descendants continue to live in this area and contribute to the well-being of this community. In recent years, the Navan2Navan project has created a modern-day link to the Navan Ireland community and many Navanites from both side of the Atlantic share wonderful visits back and forth and truly enjoy learning more of their history. Michael O Meara was the community builder.
Born and raised in the village of Navan, he learned the farming methods and rituals from his father. He eventually owned three farms and valued everything that was agricultural. Wesley also had a very strong community spirit and was involved in numerous volunteer organizations that contributed greatly to the community. He was a lifetime member of the Holstein-Freisan Association, was part of the Navan Fire Brigade before Navan had its own truck, was a promoter of the Farm Forum during the Second World War and helped promote the Boy Scout movement as well as Junior Farmers. Wesley was a long-time member of the Navan Lions Club, member of the Arena committee that built two arenas, president of the CTAS in 1949-50, Chairman of the Navan Continuation School Board. During the war, he organized and set up Blood Donor Clinics as an ongoing event in the basement of the Navan United Church. His many contributions make him a community builder.
There have been seven generations of Smiths that have lived in Navan for over 150 years. During all these years, many have helped build and shape this community as well as helped to protect this country. Born in Ireland in 1819, Thomas Smith immigrated to Canada and bought land in the Navan area from the Crown and this land became the Smith homestead. It was deeded down through the generations and is now one of the few Century Farm in the district. Through the generations, the family has been involved with St-Mary’s Church, the Navan Women’s Institute, Holstein farming, the Navan Lions Club, volunteering at the schools and many other organizations and activities that have made this a great community. The presence of Smith men in the wars speaks of their dedication to their country. At one point, six of Thomas’ Smith sons were in the service during WW2. William was killed in action. The family has many medals of distinctions that were earned for their service to Canada. One particular Smith is Eric born in 1921 and still a familiar face that helps out in his community. A family worthy of being on the Builder’s Wall.
- Appointed to the Parks and Recreation Township of the Township of Cumberland in the late 1970s
- Instrumental in the organization of the annual fastball tournaments at Navan’s new Centennial Park
- President of the Navan Lion’s Club 1976-1977, 1985-1986, 1993-1994
- Led the Fundraising Committee towards the completion of Navan’s third Arena, which raised over $500,000, and opened in the spring of 1984
- President of the Navan Curling Club 1990-1991, the year the club got its new building
- President 2005-2006 during the curling club expansion
- Navan Town Crier in 2011, in support of Navan’s 150th Anniversary
James McWilliams (1821 County Antrim, Ireland – 1895 Navan, Russell County, Ontario, Canada) and Mary Wright (1820 Ireland – 1912 Navan, ON), are noted as amongst the first families who called Navan their home and helped to establish the strong sense of community pride and community commitment for which Navan is known for today.
- 1995: organization of the Fifty-Horse Hitch, putting Navan in the Guinness Book of World Records
- Rural Expo 2001: International Plowing Match and Farm Machinery Show
- 2002: Founders and organizers of the Hay West Campaign
- 2002: First of several Navan residents to receive the Keys to the City of Ottawa, followed by additional recognitions such as the Meritorious Service Award from the Governor General of Canada received in 2003, Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Navan Lions Club Citizen of the Year, and awards presented by the Alberta Farm Classic
- 2005: Navan, Conceived and led the Food Day initiative, in support of the Ottawa Food Bank, an event which continues to be an annual fundraising occurrence
- 2006: CTV Canada AM “Wake up a Winner Community Challenge
- 2011: CBC Kraft Hockeyville
- Cumberland Township Agricultural Society and Navan Fair, Junior Farmers and 4H organizations, Ottawa Winter Fair, Draft Horse associations (Eastern Regional Clydesdale Association and Canadian Belgian Horse Association), Cumberland (Township) Heritage Museum
- With the latest generation generous sharing their talents in nursing, award winning local and international music (fiddle) dance (step and highland) competitions, and sport.